Monday, February 21, 2011

Single Forced To Mingle

Surely, it must be the times we live in. As I summon memories I remember that when I went to a hostel, away from home, my mother had said, “Enjoy the freedom. But do not fall in love and dare not have ‘boyfriends’. Coming from city based doctor parents, the words remained a tattoo on my memory. And needless to say doomed my college life!

Today my mom is a cool granny who frets and laments that her teen grandson, is not in a relationship. “Poor guy, he doesn't have a girlfriend.”

When I ask her, “Why were the restrictions only for me?”
She shrugs, “Times have changed, so have I.”

Welcome to the times where grannies are genuinely concerned about the love life of their grandchildren.

If you are a twenty something, struggling with degrees, qualifications, and placements, then the month of February triggers panic. This month I have read dozens of posts where youngsters are wallowing in the misery of bachelorhood. The point is: Must the youngsters always oscillate between pressures? You are cool, or hot or whatever, only if you are with an arm candy?

And who says that? I can hear raucous laughter coming from the shop owners who sell silly red pillows with a cupid’s arrow embroidered on it which is symbolic of eternal love. And damn Facebook! Why should we have to announce to the world about our relationship status? Relationship is not an acquisition for the world to comment. It is not about posting pictures with that debonair tomcat or the happening temptress. Nor is it not about seeking acceptance on a public platform.

Nobody, nobody tells you, “Relax, it will all come your way, sooner or later.” I read an article that in the month of February the Chinese internet was abuzz with messages like, “spring festival is coming. My parents want me home with a boyfriend. So I decided to rent one. Requirements: 180 cm, mature, nice , respectful and working. Payment 3,000 Yuan for a week- Xiaoyu888.

Single Chinese professionals are renting fake boyfriends and girlfriends in a desperate measure to cope with spending a week at home with conservative parents. In the month of February millions of Chinese travel home for family reunion during the lunar New Year. They ‘lose face’ if they do not have a marriageable partner. In Chengdu, a girl stood on the road with a banner offering 10,000 Yuan (66,000Rs) for a fake boyfriend for five days. Rented romance includes deals, stipulating obligations and price.

There was a story about a fake girlfriend who kept forgetting her lines, to the consternation of the young man who had hired her and trained her on what to say to his parents. The professional men are too busy to find a real girlfriend or cannot afford one as they just graduated from college.

For some it might be a great idea to ward off parental pressure. Yet, imagine the plight of the poor guy who rents a fake girlfriend, carrying a fake LV bag, giving a fake smile fluttering fake eyelashes at his real relatives? And what if the rented boyfriend is a greedy jerk who blackmails to shell out more money, lest he exposes the secret? And if he spills the beans one is left with no boyfriend and no family. Disaster!

Of course love is a beautiful emotion. It is any day better to send those red pillows with cupid’s arrow rather than hate messages. Today money can buy spectrum, ministries, contracts and morals…just about everything. I hope we do not end up as a society where we have to buy love.

Yes, coming from someone who was hooked, booked and almost cooked, long ago the post sounds like a crow bristling for no reason at all. Even at the risk of it, I have to say. “It will come to you sooner or later”. Till then rock with your bachelorhood and roll with your independence!
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  1. very true, time have changed a lot even in the subcontinent.... now youngsters can discuss every thing with their parents, sometimes even about their sex life.....

    LOve is never something which remains personal n discussed within walls.... moreover important ingredients of love like Emotions, Feelings romance are missing a lot these days....

    very well written post... liked the flow of writeup....

  2. Have you watched the social network. its based on the creation of 'FaceBook'.
    So Mark was sitting in his lab, developing FB when a guy comes and ask him info on a girl. That's when he realises the value of 'Relationship status'

    Being a bachelor for most part of my life, I dont think its a carnal sin to be one
    But I have heard tht in USA if u remain a bachelor in ur teens , u will be taken as Gay.

    And the people who are hooked, they will discourage you from getting into a hook!

  3. This is a serious topic in my opinion, even though it is laced with Alka's brand of fun.
    Almost all of us had our conservative parents stop us from doing anything that was not normal. To them having a gf, drinking(even in controlled manner), listening to rock music, marrying to woman of my choice was forbidden. Infact there were times when there was so much tension between me and my parents .
    I dislike people who show conservative bias and talk from some scriptures and funny distorted tradition. Not to say that don't have anything good but I used the word 'distorted'. Eventually the whole country is full of imbeciles taught and controlled by parents.
    Some one was telling me that I should not be angry with my parents as they brought me up. It was a stupid and dangerous mix of arguments. On one side was the fact that parents brought me up in a great manner. On the other side, it was like a caged bird, better be in the defined limits or else.

    Glad that I have achieved independence from all these shackles and always support the cause.

    The peer pressure too is enormous and leads to wrongful things as well.
    The idea is that parents should cultivate individual thinking in their children rather than making them imbeciles like them. To do that however we need those kinds of parents.
    For my inspiration however I look to my Granny' generation for inspiration. My nani was a rockstar ;).
    A generation above us -> NOT WORTH IT

    Great post.. keep writing.


  4. A thought provoking post though its liberally sprinkled with humor ! I agree todays generations really needs to learn patience specialy in the matter of the heart !

  5. Wow. Boyfriends/girlfriends are being rented in China. This is actually bizarre people are seeking for partners with so many new ways. What is left is newspaper advertisement. Certainly an apt post to make a dent on today's love seekers.

  6. Alka,

    Similar issue in the USA too. Indian girls and guys do not really date and do not believe in arranged marriage either.

    In China, parents do not arrange marriage - based on my travel to China and guys are girls do not not know where and how to start.

    In the USA, there are dating services.

  7. @Irfanuddin...Thank you for spending time on the post.Yes, times have changed.

    @Jon...Yup, I saw the movie. Now with two other options for gay men, the relationship status is wide open...

  8. @Ashwini...Thank you. Ashwini, in fact I am glad that my parents forbade me to find a boyfriend. It would be a disaster. I was 20 and stupid.Times have changed. The level of maturity is different at say 25and more...My son who has no girlfiend as yet, is under pressure to acquire one... I wrote this post for him and his peers.

  9. @Ruchira....Apreciate your time.How are you doing? In India or Japan? What you say is so right.

    @Prateek...Am glad u liked it.

    @A...Bang on....Thanks for reading.

  10. There is a new lines parents seem to have got these days. Diplomatically, they ensure that they don't clearly burden children with restrictions and yet they say it all the time, "You are grown up and you know what is right." (The meaning is same, take care of our image in society).

    Nice read,

    Blasphemous Aesthete

  11. Time has changed...but love being rented or buyed...them its really sad

    The famous saying ek ladka aur ladki kabhi dost nahi ho sakte...comes in between a beautiful relation of friendship...a call or being with a guy who is a friend...raises many eyebrows...and I just dont like it

    Thought provoking post :)

  12. @BA..So very well put. True.

    @Poonam....Thanks for reading dear.

  13. In this age of soaring ambitions, long working hours and stress - love becomes the first casualty.

    For kids it's more of peer pressure, everybody has a boyfriend, why shouldn't I? Like you said there should be no pressure to experience this beautiful emotion.

    Loved this write-up of yours Alka.

  14. So very well said...i liked the last 3 lines the most. Cant imagine what u hav written here...rented bf/gf! Gosh...what has the world come to?

  15. hmm china seems to bea good place to visit for long ahmmm ahmm ahmm he he he

    yeah times have changed a lottttttttttttttttttt


  16. @Purba...Yup, you are bang on!

    @Ria...New Bride! Thanks for taking time.Hope you are happy. All the best.

    Bikram...The incorrigible flirt!he, he.

  17. like the title and pic
    yes now society is little bit opening

  18. Lol at hooked, booked and cooked.....:-)

  19. This is a silken piece of prose that effectively captures the essence of changing times in a few lines. I lived in a house full of sisters and remember how a silent curfew was imposed on the eldest one when a mushy Gulshan Nanda was confiscated from her schoolbag. What Chinese have been doing is pathetic to say the least. Yet, many are trying to replace the basic human emotions with the magic of money. One has to be particularly cold and heartless to be renting love -either way- but if you start scratching the veneer of relationships today, both legal and illegal, you will soon find that many are resting on purely monetary equations.

  20. @sm...Am glad u like it. :)

    @Umashankar.....Coming from you it means a lot. Love is all about emotions and once you rent it or fake it, the very essence of it is gone. You said it.

  21. damned if you do damned if you dont!
    peer or familial pressure!!

    another stressful situation indeed!

    living on ones own terms should be the goal and as you rightly said.. it will happen!!

    well written!

  22. Wonderful post Alka. I hate people who create all the buzz in facebook just for show off. Today it has become a craze to get comments on realtionship status, only wish people don't cross the line in the days to come.

  23. Ohh How would I not know this... If you are a single the world is after your life... Not having a BF is sin these days... or may be the committed ones are just jealous of us.... :D

  24. Boyfriends and girlfriends for rent? Tghe malaise goes deeper than the trend reveals. The casualty of today's fast paced life are relationships -- of any kind. Great post highlighting subtle problems facing us today.

  25. oops !renting boyfriends???what an idea sirji!!well written post

  26. @magiceye...Exactly. Damned if you do and damned if you dont.

    @Anto...Am glad u like it.


  27. @zephyr...You are right. The malaise is deeper.

    @Rajji..Thank u ji:)

  28. very well said... the pressures are insane... but its not just in china i say.. ima 30 yr old single independent indian girl living in the US for the past 5 -6 yrs..and now everytime i go home to india to visit my parents, i have everyone from the lift man to the 3th cousin to neighbors asking me when im getting married..its sooo frustrating, coz some of them actually have the nerve to say things like " maybe u shud exercise and lose some wt" or "its not too late yet" ..r u kidding..ofcourse its not too late..its never too late.. and no i look just fine..if they only knew how many boys have already proposed to me..i just havent found the right one...and y is it soo hard for ppl to mind their own business... i say just to save me this trauma, i may actually consider going to india next time with a fake husband...!! lol...sorry for ranting... i got a little emotional i guess...hehe

  29. First of all- Arm candy ? Haha... I would remember this :D

    I kind of sense your predicament. you have seen the two ends of spectrum,unlike us who have lived only in the post-liberalisation era. Infact, you are lucky to have parents that liberal to let you go for outdoor studies. My mother,married at 14 or something, was not that lucky. Such topics were sacrosanct in those times ( and they still are, in the world I come from ).

    I would joke about the girl who sat by my side in class to my mother but if I talk about the same girl two days in a row, she does get suspicious :). Conclusion- Mothers have not changed much :D.

    Facebook declarations and public displays of affection (PDA) are just ways to route the insecurity within. Since the relationships are surfacial and lack character, people work overtime to reaffirm their stand 86400 times a day.Plus there is this fetish for doing everything fast- getting a relationship fast, breaking up and getting in a new relationship fast- that we forget to savour the moment. It is no more about "Miss Right" but about "Miss Right Now".

    Yet things eternal in nature have retained their appeal. Handwritten letters in Devanagari still make me weak in legs. Rickshaw ride is any day better than a ride in car or any other motorized vehicle.

  30. @Prutha....Oh, God you are going through it? I can understand your rant. Thanks for reading Prutha.

    I guess mothers are the same.
    Yes, you nailed it. Their is this urgency/pressure to do it it love, first car or own house.

  31. Love has become peer pressure and all about show off. I would go even a step further and say that don't go looking for the most serious of relationships at 16. Take life as it comes and not under the pressure of others to have a trophy girlfriend/boyfriend.